Northern Ireland talks collapse

Latest phase of talks over NI power restoration 'over' - McDonald

SINN FEIN will meet with leaders of both the Irish and United Kingdom governments today to discuss the failed bid to restore power-sharing in the North.

The talks collapsed after almost four weeks of negotiations between the DUP and Sinn Féin on setting up an Northern Ireland executive, which has been without a government for 13 months.

The power-sharing talks are believed to have collapsed over a proposed Irish language act.

The two parties, representing mainly Catholic proponents of a united Ireland and Protestant supporters of continued rule by Britain, have failed to meet a number of deadlines.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that is yet to recognise same-sex marriage in law, despite several attempts to introduce marriage equality through the devolved assembly.

Speaking at a press conference, she said that DUP leader Arlene Foster brought the talks to a close.

Foster's colleague Simon Hamilton told reporters agreement was "impossible" at this time but that the DUP wanted to pick the talks up at a future date. "It is now incumbent upon Her Majesty's Government to set a budget and start making policy decisions about our schools, hospitals and infrastructure", Foster said in a statement.

Latest phase of talks over NI power restoration 'over' - McDonald

The British government, which is overseeing the talks alongside the Irish government, has already had to take steps towards ruling the region directly from London for the first time in a decade, setting a budget late a year ago that runs until the end of March.

The DUP leader concluded: "Restoring a sustainable and fully functioning devolved government will remain our goal but we will not accept a one-sided deal".

The two parties blamed each other for the impasse that threatens power-sharing, the key achievement of Northern Ireland's 1998 peace accord that ended decades of bloodshed.

The DUP, which props up the Conservative government in Westminster, refused to agree to Sinn Fein demands to introduce legal protections for the Irish language, and said there was "no prospect" of a deal.

Ms McDonald said the package included an Irish language act, an Ulster Scots act, and respecting language and diversity act. The Irish language is a divisive issue in Northern Ireland.

"There is the basis of an agreement, and it should be possible to see an executive up and running in Northern Ireland very soon", she said.

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